Posted by Craig Borlase on 27 January 2016

Forget winning two Grammy Awards and a stint at the top of the Billboard Christian Songs chart, 10,000 Reasons is a song that made the news recently for an even more surprising reason.

On April 29th 2015, eight convicted drugs traffickers were executed in a maximum-security prison on Nusa Kambangan, Indonesia. Having been sentenced to death years earlier, they were given just a few days’ notice of their execution.

But the long years in prison had changed them. Seven had become Christians, "By all accounts,” wrote Brian Houston (Senior Pastor, Hillsong) of two of the Australians in the group, “[they] have not only accepted the mercy and forgiveness of Jesus Christ, but have also rehabilitated themselves to be upstanding members of the prison system… Even in jail they have made a positive contribution to the lives of other prisoners, and sought to pay their debt to society.”

And so they died as they had learned to live: praising God. They sang hymns like Amazing Grace in their final hours and refused to wear blindfolds as they faced the firing squad. And as the final seconds of their lives counted down, they started to sing a new song: 10,000 Reasons.

“It was breathtaking,” said Pastor Karina De Vega who was assigned to counsel one of the men. “This was the first time I witnessed someone so excited to meet their God.”

For Matt Redman, co-writer of 10,000 Reasons, hearing the news had a profound affect.

“I felt majorly encouraged that this little song had found its way out there. But I also thought ‘how astounding an example of worship is that?’ When people call someone like me a worship leader it’s almost a joke compared to people facing a loaded gun and still singing out to Jesus.

“It made me realise that you can face anything in this life and still sing a song of worship on your lips. Anything.

“And it reminded me that these songs have a habit of showing up in the most unlikely of places. We’ve heard story after story of that song helping people, and about 15 different people have told me how they were asked to play it to a loved one as they died. It puts things back into perspective. Keeps it all centred and level.”

10,000 Reasons had an unlikely beginning. “If it had been up to me the song wouldn’t have been on the album. That’s the most brilliant thing of all. Jonas Myrin had a bit of melody and we wrote the song really quick, but I still thought it was a bit folky and didn’t know if it was finished  - there’s no pre-chorus, no bridge, and I thought it might also be a bit too “hymny” for the record! But when we played it to Nathan [Nockels, the producer] he said ‘I don’t care what we’re dropping from the album, that song’s going on’. That was when I first had an inkling that that there was something to this song.

“It goes to show that I don’t really know anything at the end of the day! But I like it like that. It’s good.”

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